This post is being written in a very strange way. I’m sitting out on my patio at home on some new garden furniture, under a large umbrella late on a Saturday afternoon and preparing to fire up the barbecue to make some dinner. Normally I write these from my home office upstairs in the spare room or lying in bed on my Macbook.
Part of the reason we moved was that while our previous place had lots of room, had a couple of decks, including one attached to our office, this new place has a really nice patio area and plenty of Sun. Living in Australia, you can pretty much work in a spot like this all year round and because my wife works from home on our online businesses, this is a great place to work.
With that in mind, I thought I’d share with you some of my ideas around working from home because, for people who aren’t used to it, switching can be really counterproductive.
If you’re serious about working from home, you need to have a home office that’s properly set up for doing actual work. In our home office, we each have our own desk and more traditional desktop computers. I have an iMac 27″ with a second 24″ monitor and my wife has a fully pimped out Mac Mini with a 24″ monitor. These computers are powerful and are the places where we do the heavy lifting – things like content creation, video editing and working on websites.
Plenty of people talk about the laptop lifestyle and working from anywhere, but if you’re serious about building your online business, you’re going to need a room with a good computer, a printer and the ability to close the door to get some peace and quiet. In our new house, everything is made of solid concrete and brick, so the rooms are very quiet which means when you need to focus, just about any room in the house will give you that ability to shut the world out.
That said, laptops and mobile devices are an important part of my workflow. As I mentioned, I have a MacBook but it’s getting up there in age now. Like most Macs it lasts forever, I think my MacBook is nearly 8 years old. This year it won’t run the newest MacOS version, so that’s pretty much the end of its working life.
My first thought was to replace it with a new MacBook Pro or a MacBook Air, but having bounced it around in my head a bit the past few weeks, I’m not really convinced I need a brand new laptop with that kind of power. I mean when you think about it, what do I use it for? Mostly I use it to write emails and content, all of which can be done on the web. It seems like a pretty heavy investment for something that I use less than once a week.
Now that the weather has warmed up and we’ve settled into the house, my wife will probably want to work out here on the patio as well, so we started talking about laptops for her. She came to the same conclusion, a couple thousand dollars for a laptop that might get used a couple times a week at best seems wasteful.
I think we’re going to end up going with a Chromebook of some description because it will be lightweight, portable, and do exactly what we want it to do at an affordable price.
The one thing that many people do that neither of us is really that interested in is working in places like coffee shops. I know plenty of people who can get a bunch of work done in that kind of environment, I’m just not one of them. I’m a people watcher, so in a place like that, I find myself eavesdropping and paying attention to others. If you work in these kinds of environments then you’re probably going to need a good laptop and a mobile plan with plenty of data.
The last variable is travel. I travel a bit for work, but I also have a pretty good, lightweight laptop that they provide. When I was travelling to Brisbane every week, I just took that with me and I was able to do most of what I needed to do. Ideally, I would have liked to just bring my iPad Air 2, but despite how nice those devices are, they aren’t really full laptop replacements. If you travel for business or pleasure, then something like a good MacBook Air will be an option for you.
The key thing about working from home is making sure that you understand your workflow and think about the type of work you do. You need to have a place that is for work – a home office, with a door where you can get some privacy and quiet to get things done. You also need to get the right tools to do the work. I like to keep my phone fairly new because I basically live on that, but laptops and desktop computers, I tend to buy the top end and use them for a longer period of time.
I used to be the sort of person that was constantly buying new computers and laptops all the time, but the truth is that gets really distracting and disruptive chopping and changing computers all the time. In an effort to “gain efficiency” through new tools, I ended up wasting money and time on stuff that didn’t help me grow my business.
The tools and the environment are only important in so far as they serve your purposes and at the end of the day, it’s all about the work.